By Kevin Wang
The COVID-19 pandemic forced school districts to shift to online learning, and with this transition came an increased reliance on technology. Zoom and Google Meet have been effective platforms for communication, and developers have offered creative ways for teachers to provide personalized attention to students. Some of these include machine learning software to track students’ progress and automatically assign specific homework problems. Other technologies, however, have been far more daring—for example, algorithms that can grade students’ essays.
By Elaine Zhu
As summer blends into autumn, the air acquires a crisp and almost earthy scent. A deep breath in—the smell of cinnamon, hot cocoa, firewood crackling after a school bonfire—and memories come flooding through me, as if I’m transported to a familiar autumn day. It’s not just the smells of a cool autumn day that make me nostalgic: the smell of chlorine brings me back to my childhood swimming lessons and the smell of bread brings me back to baking with my family. With so many distinct smells in the world, how can one scent trigger such particular memories?
By Michelle Lu
Who doesn’t love burgers? The unique smell, taste, texture, and sizzle when flipping the beef patty on the grill all contribute to a perfect burger. Beyond their taste, however, beef burgers are far from perfect. While the health risks associated with high red meat consumption are widely known, many may not know that the amount of carbon dioxide that is given off from raising a pound of beef is, in fact, greater than that of burning a gallon of gasoline. Furthermore, cattle, pigs, and chickens are major incubators for dangerous viruses, and the clearing of forests to raise animals also drives habitat loss and the extinction of wild species.
By Eleanor Lin
The novel coronavirus has often been spoken of as if it were a living, breathing enemy. Yet SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, is not considered fully "alive" by scientists, since (like all viruses) it cannot reproduce on its own. Instead, it must hijack human cells in order to produce copies of itself, damaging the host cells and causing illness in the process.
By Ethan Feng
Proteins are important: imagine any process in your body, from digestion to immune response, and proteins are likely involved. So, it’s no surprise that scientists have long been working to understand the properties of these biochemical machines. In particular, grasping their structural details is crucial—think of proteins as puzzle pieces: a protein’s shape determines whether it can fit together and thus interact with other molecules. Ultimately, knowledge of these properties can provide insight into a protein’s function in living cells, which can help us solve important real-world problems in science and medicine.
By Charles Bonkowsky
On October 20, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe will make its first attempt at retrieving pieces of an asteroid for study. The spacecraft will touch down over 200 million miles from Earth on the small, diamond-shaped asteroid named Bennu, landing for no more than a few seconds to collect loose particles of rock and dust from the surface before jetting away. If successful, it will become the first U.S. mission to retrieve samples from an asteroid and only the third in history, behind two Japanese probes, Hayabusa and Hayabusa 2.
By Hannah Prensky
In the summer of 2019, patients agglomerated in emergency rooms gasping for breath, facing lung failure, and suffering through signs of severe lung tissue damage and scarring. These patients were not victims of chemical attacks, nor were they elderly life-long smokers—rather, they were young people with vapes. In October 2019, a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx became the first teenager to die from a vaping-related illness; later that month, a teenager in Montana died of a vaping-related lung disease. This national outbreak has affected over 2,000 patients and killed more than 39 people in the last year alone. In fact, vaping illnesses had grown into such a rampant epidemic that the Governor’s Office of New York declared in fall 2019 that the state would outlaw the sale of all flavored vaping products.
By Boyuan Chen
Have you ever noticed that, even if you turn the water all the way up—whether it’s in your shower or from a garden hose—it never travels far in a continuous stream before breaking into discontinuous drops? Or that, whether you go swimming or scuba diving, the air you exhale underwater always comes out in the form of bubbles? If so, you might wonder: Why can’t water or air travel normally in streams, like how they flow in a hose or through your trachea? Why must they always break off into smaller droplets or bubbles? Although the two phenomena seem similar, they are, in fact, very different physical processes, and we must discuss them separately for a deeper understanding.
By Boyuan Chen
One of the more confusing sights on a dinner table is the mysterious streaks of green on fresh slices of beef. It appears as if the beef has gone bad — and, alas, there goes your appetite. But sometimes, when you take a closer look, you might just behold the entire spectrum of a rainbow glittering on the surface, defying your basic intuition of what beef should look like—brown and boring, but delicious. As you gobble up that dangerously vibrant slice of meat (or scrape it into the trash), you may wonder: why was that beef shiny?
By Liza Casella
There are exactly zero counties in the United States where one can support a family on a minimum wage salary. In 2018, 8.5% of Americans, including 5.5% of children, did not have health insurance. Economic mobility is becoming increasingly difficult. It is blatantly obvious that capitalism in the United States is propagating cycles of poverty, exploiting low-income families, preventing people from accessing preventative and emergency healthcare, and is thus indirectly responsible for the death of millions.